Election signs cost money
Election signs on display in front of the West Asheville Public Library on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. Colby Rabon / Carolina Public Press

Editor’s notes: This story first appeared at 12 a.m. on March 24. It was updated at 12:30 p.m. March 26 to reflect the completed filing process.

The filing window for candidates to compete in this year’s primary election closed Friday at noon and races have shaped up to be competitive, at least in the primaries.

No, you didn’t read that incorrectly. And no, this isn’t an article from December. Yes, if you remember a filing window for the 2016 primaries that already closed in December, you’re correct.

But thanks to a pair of recent court decisions, two types of contests in North Carolina will be decided in a special June 7 primary.

U.S. House of Representatives

A federal court decided in February that the General Assembly had relied too heavily on race as a criteria when drawing districts for North Carolina members of Congress.

The General Assembly met in special session to create new maps, set up a new filing period ending March 25 and order a new primary election on June 7.

The case is being appealed, as are the newly drawn districts, but no action is expected in time to affect this year’s election. (Although, stayed tuned just in case.)

Changes in the districts were somewhat minimal for Western North Carolina in comparison with other regions of the state.

Avery County is now in District 5 instead of 11, Buncombe County is now divided along a more clear line between Districts 10 and 11 and all districts saw some changes in their makeup outside of WNC, which will subtly shift their partisan and ethnic makeup. It could also shift them toward or away from control of certain intra-party factions for the primaries.

N.C. Supreme Court

In early March a Wake County court said the state’s new method of selecting members of the N.C. Supreme Court didn’t pass constitutional muster.

Legislators had approved a measure letting residents vote up or down on whether a sitting justice could remain in office. If a justice was voted out, then new candidates would run for the open seat. Some other states select justices this way. But as the court pointed out, those states have written this system into their constitutions. North Carolina’s constitution doesn’t seem to allow for a referendum on judges, the court said.

With the congressional filing period and June 7 primary already looming, the state Board of Elections handled the situation in stride, fitting Supreme Court candidate filing and primary elections into the same schedule.

The judicial case also is being appealed, with the wrinkle that the state Board of Elections has asked the N.C. Supreme Court to rule on how members of the N.C. Supreme Court are retained or selected. That situation has some courts and government experts scratching their heads over the apparent conflict of interest. Some have called for the recusal of at least the one justice whose seat is up during the 2016 election cycle.

But no action on this case is expected in time to affect this year’s elections either. (Again, stay tuned anyway.)

Filed candidates

Following are the candidates for offices affecting Western North Carolina voters who filed by the noon deadline on Friday, March 25, according to the N.C. Board of Elections:

N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice (nonpartisan)

Michael “Mike” Rivers Morgan, D-Raleigh
Robert “Bob” Holt Edmunds Jr., R-Greensboro (incumbent)
Sabra Jean Faires, U-Cary
Daniel Gray Robertson, D-Advance

U.S. House, District 5

Charles “Charlie” Ronnie Wallin, D-Boone
Joshua “Josh” Ethan Brannon, D-Vilas
James “Jim” Henry Roberts Sr., D-Pilot Mountain
Patricia Margaret Curran, R-Kernersville
Virginia Ann Foxx, R-Banner Elk (incumbent)

U.S. House, District 10

Carl “Andy” Millard, D-Columbus
Jeffrey “Jeff” Dale Gregory, R-Shelby
Jeffrey Ronald Baker, R-Mount Holly
Albert Lee Wiley Jr., R-Atlantic Beach
Patrick Timothy McHenry, R-Denver (incumbent)

U.S. House, District 11

Mark Randal Meadows, R-Cashiers (incumbent)
Thomas “Tom” Waddell Hill, D-Zirconia
Fredrick “Rick” E. Bryson, D-Bryson City

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Frank Taylor is the managing editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact him at ftaylor@carolinapublicpress.org.

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